You can choose how thoroughly you want to clean the drive
Choosing a cleaning method
Once you choose a drive, you'll then see the next screen, shown in Figure G, which prompts you to choose how fully you want to clean your drive. As you can see, you can choose to just remove your files or fully clean your hard disk. The option you choose will depend on the reason that you are resetting your PC in the first place. For example, if you are simply resetting your PC to give yourself a completely new start, you'll probably want to select the Just remove my files option. On the other hand, if you are going to be passing your PC on to someone else, you may want to choose the Fully clean the drive option.
If you choose the Just remove my files option, Windows RE will simply perform a Quick Format operation on the hard disk. This procedure simply deletes the file table that contains pointers to the actual data files. It doesn't actually delete the data nor does it actually modify the disk sectors containing the data in anyway.
If you choose the Fully clean the drive option, Windows RE will perform a full format of the hard disk that will include a much more methodical and secure erasure of your data. This includes several passes over the hard disk writing 0's and then other random numbers to every sector on the hard disk. Of course, this will take a longer to perform.
Credit: Images by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.
On one screen it says "make sure your PC is plugged in." WELL DOH! How would it be on, otherwise? And will this work on the tablet devices that the damn OS is designed for, I imagine it might take all the battery power to do it and that's why it would need "plugged in?" Other than that, it also calls for recovery media. Most PC's don't ship with that, and no one ever makes their own, so this would be useless. What a joke!
First issue of Windows to admit how fragile it is. Rebuild built in. So your virus-riddled files get saved to re-infect you once you've rebuilt?
I've lost the recovery partition on an Asus ultrabook. Trying to work out how to properly reinstall Windows 8 on the combo.
After creating recovery disks on a new Windows 8 machine, my suggestion is to try running the reset. 1. make sure that it works (on my new laptop it didn't) 2. better to find out while there is nothing on the machine to lose and while it is under warranty than a year later when the warranty is done. In my case the machine had to be sent back to the manufacturer to be fixed. It took lots of calls to support and they even sent me new recovery disks. There was a hardware problem that prevented the recovery process from running.